Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Elegant Terns move house when it gets too hot, and Bob Tisdale tries to cover it up @wattsupwiththat

If you mention global warming in a press release, deniers will be all over you. If seas are sometimes getting much hotter much more often, don't think for a minute it might possibly be part of a world-wide trend. Not even in the context of this:

Data source: UK Met Office Hadley Centre

Nesting behaviour of Elegant Terns has changed this century

Bob Tisdale (archived here) has his knickers in a knot because a press release from the University of California Riverside had this to say (my emphasis):
Increased frequencies of abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of California, possibly as a result of globally warming oceans, coupled with extremely high fishing pressure, are delivering a combined blow to the legendary productivity of the Gulf of California, forcing seabirds to fly away in search for more suitable environments, even if that means abandoning their ancestral nesting grounds and moving into highly transformed industrial landscapes such as the San Diego Saltworks or the LA Harbor Container Terminal.

The study was published in Science Advances and, as the press release said, was about how "warming oceanographic conditions and fishing pressure are driving nesting seabirds away from their ancestral breeding ground in Mexico into California harbors". The study was about nesting Elegant Terns (Thalasseus elegans). You can read the details yourself in the press release or the paper (I'm short of time right now so this is short and sweet).

The birds used to disappear after a heavy fishing season (not enough food) and after strong El Ninos. But the researchers found (from the paper):
Before year 2000, all warm anomalies observed in the Midriff Region followed by nesting failures of Elegant Terns in Isla Rasa (when terns did not establish nests at all, abandoned the colonies before hatching of the chicks, or had massive chick mortality) were part of large-scale El Niño events (for example, 1992 and 1998), and indices such as SOI were accurate predictors of nesting success (fig. S2A). After year 2000, the numbers of successfully nesting terns in Rasa became uncoupled from large-scale El Niño indices, and local SST anomalies became the most accurate predictors of nesting success (table S3). Simultaneously, more than 70% of the total Elegant Tern nesting population started to be observed in the three California colonies, but especially in the San Diego colony (Fig. 1D), during years in which the SST anomaly in the Midriff was above 1.0°C. By contrast, in years in which the anomaly in the Midriff was low (<1.0°C), less than 20% of the total nesting population was observed in the three California colonies.

Bob Tisdale reckons wrongly (as usual):
It’s sad when claims made in a press release are not supported by the conclusions of the paper its advertising, even sadder when data supplied as part of a scientific study contradict that press release.

Bob did his usual thing of getting averaged sea surface temperature data. He's done this sort of thing before, hiding the detail. In this case he missed the pulses of warm temperature that the scientists found, as shown in Figure 2 below:

Fig 2: Top images depict the general winter-spring conditions during normal and El Niño cycles: (i) February 2013, a highly productive year with cool surface temperatures; (ii) February 1998, the most intense El Niño of the last decades. Lower images show the formation of a local anomaly during a non–El Niño year: (iii) April 2009, an apparently normal year, transitioned in (iv) May 2009 into a high SST condition in the Gulf of California that forced most of the nesting terns to abandon the area. 
And Bob missed this, too, which included nest info as well as sea surface temperature and fishing effort:

Fig. 2 Time series correlations between oceanographic variables, fisheries, and Elegant Tern nesting populations. (A) Proportions of Elegant Tern nests established in California in relation to total nests counted. (B) Midriff winter-spring SST anomaly. (C) SST difference between the Pacific and Midriff. (D) Fishing effort by the Sonora fleet. (E) Total sardine landings.

Once again, Bob Tisdale is full of it. And wrong. He cannot abide anyone discussing global warming or even local warming and its impacts.

From the WUWT comments

Bob Tisdale, pseudo-scientist in true Dunning-Kruger style, tells the scientists:
June 30, 2015 at 5:30 am
PS to Velarde et al: Your paper would have been much better if you had used sea surface temperature in absolute form and shown that the sea surfaces were cooler in the areas the birds had emigrated to when the sea surfaces in the Gulf of California had reached a specific threshold…not simply a 1.0 deg C anomaly threshold.

Paul Westhaver claims he looked for a pulse like variation, except he didn't look at the paper or he'd have found it:
 June 30, 2015 at 5:45 am
I love it. I looked at the data and it seems to me that the conclusion was written before the paper was started. That is what lefty activists do, without shame. The dirty little secret is that few people are reading the body of the papers to see if the results jive with the data. I looked at the supplemental data too. Seems like Michael H. Horn, & Robert T. Patton are relying on that reality to sell their study? Where is the peer review? There was a spurious comment on rodent population eradication tossed in there too.
From the abstract:
“Isla Rasa in the Midriff (1980 to 2014) shows that terns migrate northward when confronting warm oceanographic anomalies (>1.0°C), which may decrease fish availability and hamper nesting success.”
In the conclusion:
“there is a pulse-like variation in local SST conditions in the Midriff, which seems to drive nesting pairs to emigrate toward California when surface seawater in the Midriff is too warm,”
I was looking for this pulse like variation…??

Ernest Bush decides it's geothermal activity because "anything but global warming"
June 30, 2015 at 6:07 am
BTW, the SST anomaly map has been showing that the Gulf of California is up to 6 degrees higher than is normal. I find myself wondering if geothermal activity along both coasts is also higher than normal as a contributing factor.

menicholas could be talking about Bob's article, however being at WUWT it's more likely another case of Dunning-Kruger-itis:
June 30, 2015 at 6:07 am
Sea-level warming?
Sounds like they got their alarmist talking points all scrambled up in a mish-mash. Since they do not know what they are talking about, they have a hard time writing about it coherently.
This is so dumb it is almost funny. Or it would be, if this nonsense was not being used to frighten innocent children with no ability to think critically and dismiss such alarmist propaganda for what it is.

Open discussion

I've been tied up with other stuff lately. Normal posting will return soon. In the meantime, feel free to talk about anything at all - as long as it's vaguely climate-related. Treat this as an open thread.


Enriqueta Velarde, Exequiel Ezcurra, Michael H. Horn and Robert T. Patton. "Warm oceanographic anomalies and fishing pressure drive seabird nesting north". Science Advances, June 2015 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400210

Why Are Seabirds Abandoning Their Ancestral Nesting Grounds in Gulf of California? - Press release from University of California Riverside.

Perennially Puzzled Bob Tisdale surfs the surface at Florida Keys - HotWhopper article - when Bob did something similar to what he did here.


  1. I'm confused, the authors used a gridded dataset. Bob should be happy to see them average a bunch of grid points, it's helped him smear out the signal he didn't want to see in the past.

    SST in absolute? Sure why not, I've always looked forward to triple digits year round!

    1. The old "absolute temperature" gambit, I have seen other climate change denier bloggers try that as well. All they need do is add the anomaly to the baseline to get a quasi-absolute temperature.

      I suspect they just want to distract from the temperature anomaly. Or they want an "absolute" temperature so they can stick their heads out of the window of their home and claim that it does not match the temperature locally.

  2. Open thread.

    The El Nino diagnostic from NOAA is switching to talk about a "strong" El Nino event again (last year's "strong" forecast did not happen):

    "The dynamical model average and CPC CON suggest that Niño 3.4 will exceed +1.5C (a “strong” El Niño) later on this year."

    If I am not mistaken, a "double" Kelvin Wave is on its way, I don't see much cooling between the current Kelvin Wave and the previous one. Page 15:

    1. I am reading the first July cyclone (at least in the satellite era) is developing in the Queensland monitoring zone.

      It may well give the El Nino a kick-along.

    2. It does, Harry. Record west wind burst associated with it.

    3. Indeed. Wunderground has a good article on this:

  3. Judith Curry is pushing her idea of correlating AMO and PDO with US temperature changes.

    Hopefully Tamino will chime in with analysis like here and here

    1. I am suspicious when she starts off "The failure of global climate models...".

      Can you classify something as a "failure" when it didn't find something that it was never designed to find in the first place?

      I notice she is channeling Bob Tisdale again.

  4. Found this Official California Dustbowl Thread that has the things I was wanting to post, all in one place. Check it out. Some of them are in the comments as they proceed to track the ongoing extreme drought.

    I wonder (does anyone know) how many trees have died so far this century that are drought related? 2.5 million + have died in California in the last year. Over 300 million died in Texas in the last five years. Probably another 300+ million in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Dead trees might get noticed.

    I see it all the time traveling so extensively. Rocky Mountain States trees are in really bad shape. Death is all over the place for the trees, when you know what to look for, it has me very depressed.

    1. And Washington's forests are aflame

    2. It's scarier than a Monkey Horror Picture Show, scariest probably being... think of some movies... Blood Monkeys, Monkey Shine...
      But what you post is reality, PG. The WUuuuuWT'rs and people like Watts & Glenn Beck absolutely don't want folks to realize that. They want everyone to believe CONservative reality instead. That Washington State actually is a refreshingly cool place.

  5. Year-to-date graph...

    2014's Will-this-be-a-warmest-year-ever? vigil didn't start until that fall. 2015's is already engaged.

    Such a countdown will be particularly useful during this election season in the US, because Republican politicians will have to present their increasingly inadequate denials more frequently...hopefully.

    The official NOAA/NCEI and GISS monthly values become available about the middle of the following month. Later this year NOAA/NCEI will presumably be publishing its own year-to-date graph again, based on its data set. GISS data set aficionados will continue returning to Hot Whopper.

    For the impatient there are two precursors. Nick Stokes [] provides an early pre-estimate. And Roy Spencer's UAH satellite lower troposphere monthly anomaly is also available early, as a measure of the surface temperature. I myself need to better understand his numbers, because I'm not very good at understanding his words, during rising temperatures.

    Regional current event accounts of cold or warmth and heat waves are typically mentioned in hindsight, but seem too local to support global conclusions.

    And then there's ENSO. As mentioned in previous comments, quoting NOAA second-hand:
    "...2010 was the last year with El Nino conditions; however El Nino was ending at this point in 2010, while it appears to be maturing at the same point in 2015."

    As of 11June2015, per NOAA at the ENSO Blog at
    "There's a very high probability that El Nino will continue through the fall and early winter, and it could become a strong event."

    "How will El Nino affect 2015's placement among the warmest years on record" is a relevant 4June2015 article by Deke Arndt at "ENSO Blog's new sister blog, 'Beyond the Data' "

    1. Yeah, but they just turn to the same page of the denier's playbook as they used in 1998: 'the record high temperatures are due to El Nino'. And we can look forward to a new 'pause' after that.

      Add some crap about scientists adjusting the temperature record and every knuckledragger who loves cars more than his own children will be happy.

      Apologies for the crappy advert before the Youtube video, but this is a fair reflection of the society in which we live.

    2. Yes and Ninos manufacture ocean heat don't you know.

    3. On this July 14th a 'warmest June' is mentioned as a topic on And Then There's Physics' annotate blog roll. For Robert Scribbler's website:

      "The Hothouse Yet Worsens - Japan Meteorological Agency Shows June of 2015 Was Warmest on Record."

      So for the impatient...we have another place to look...

  6. Paul Craig Roberts on global warming and climate change.

    Since this is an open thread... In other news, >There is a new drink in the USA called the 'Trickle Down' where you pay for the drink and the bartender gives the drink to the richest fatcat elitest in the pub...
    >If Donald Trump is elected president there's a 90% chance that the USA will be renamed something with 'Trump' in it...
    >Donald Trump has filed his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. It was so much easier than filing for chapter 11 four times... and staying in business... maybe that's what we need now?...
    >A couple of Super PACS are already going after independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who won't have a super PAC, it will likely get very nasty like they made it for Henry Ross Perot.

    I deeply worry that we may not make it to the end of the year without another Flying Monkey Horror Show. The neoconservative ideologues and tough-talking “liberal interventionists” are just itching to start something big.

    There is just too much for me to keep up with these days and work full time, much less post... So here is a list of the sites I visit regularly. You can hopefully be an astute observer. I start every day with Willem Middelkoop @wmiddelkoop on Twitter and his side kicks.      Zero Hedge     Armstrong Economics    Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (we occasionally have a conversation)     then often....     anything Matt Taibbi       David Stockman's Contra Corner       Contrary Perspective         Russia Insider       The Vineyard of the Saker       Consortium News       Financial Juice         Information Clearinghouse         Lew Rockwell          @AndreVltchek &      Sputnik       CounterPunch           Informed Comment           Veterans News Now            Economic Undertow           Philosophy of Metrics        Want China Times           China Daily       Rational wiki on climate change and American Exceptionalism

  7. Bob Tisdale apparently denies local, Carolina, accounts of warmer Outer Banks water temperatures. To eliminate global warming as a possible shark attack factor, he produces a graph showing that the sea surface temperatures haven't warmed in the last century.
    "That Didn't Take Long: North & South Carolina Shark Attacks Blamed on Global Warming." 3Jul2015 WUWT


    "The record-breaking numbers of shark bites might be related to an unseasonably hot June that rapidly raised ocean temperatures off North Carolina and prompted fish to migrate north earlier than usual, said...a shark researcher..."

    "The seven attacks in North Carolina are the most recorded in one year since...began keeping records 80 years ago. The highest previous total was five attacks in 2010 [another globally hottest year]" AP 3Jul2015

    Both then and now it could be that higher air temperatures are also a factor. The early warmth could be sending more people into the water more often.

    Also, Bob Tisdale neglected to mention the salinity issue, which would be GW related. Except for bull sharks, most sharks avoid lower salinity water.

    "Parts of North Carolina have been abnormally dry or have experienced moderate drought conditions for several weeks...This means the salinity, or salt content of ocean water close to shore is higher than usual."


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